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If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.


If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

In 2016, the USPS delivered 27 billion pieces of B2B mail. Here and now, in the digital age, that’s a lot of paper – and it’s being distributed to pretty much every corner of your organization. Moving all that physical mail is expensive, probably much more expensive than you think. But you may never know, because it’s really difficult to get metrics on physical mail. In fact, I’ve never talked to a company that had reasonable metrics on their mail.

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So, you say, why does this matter? Well, I’ve got a couple of examples that may surprise the heck out of you.

Do you know how much direct mail cost?

Example #1 A large U.S. bank estimated that their cost to deliver mail was $0.48 per piece (that’s just delivery to the internal destination, and doesn’t include any processing after that). When we did an actual quantifiable analysis of their inbound mail, we discovered that their volume estimates were inflated by 200%. In other words, if they estimated they were processing 100,000 pieces of mail per month, the actual volume was only 33,000. (I’ve changed the volume numbers to ensure anonymity). This means the actual cost of delivery is really $1.34 per piece, and the productivity of their mailroom staff is literally 1/3 of what they thought. Trust me, they receive and deliver a lot of mail, so the cost (and potential savings) add up. The moral: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Example #2 During an initial meeting, a senior manager at a large U.S. institution told us he didn’t think physical mail was much of a problem because, in his personal experience, “I don’t get much mail anymore.” Later, our detailed analysis identified that the company received well over 10 million pieces of inbound mail per year and that it had the following characteristics:

  • More than 80% was transactional – headed to a department, not a person.
  • Millions of pieces were redistributed through interoffice mail – sometimes 2 or more times per piece.
  • Hundreds of thousands of pieces were copied one or more times to facilitate complex operational workflows.

We calculated the actual cost of delivery of mail to be in excess of $2.00 per piece – pretty surprising considering that management initially thought they didn’t have a mail problem. Again: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Moreover, that’s why it’s so important to measure mail.

direct mail cost

Measure mail with metrics

Digitized direct mail metrics let you know:

  • exactly how many pieces you’re receiving and who they’re going to – so you know where to focus on process improvement.
  • exactly how long it takes to get a piece of mail to the right destination, and how long it takes to process the queue of mail – so you understand your customer responsiveness and manage SLAs.
  • how many people are working on each queue of mail, so you see how efficiently your resources are allocated.
  • how to track outlier mail that isn’t being processed, so you can see areas that are understaffed.

In addition to the core advantages of direct mail metrics, it’s important to note that simply digitizing your inbound mail at the point of receipt eliminates a huge portion of its associated costs – pretty much every cost that relates to moving the physical paper (which has no real value except as a medium to hold the data).

The bottom line is pretty obvious. Digitizing inbound mail turns a problematic anachronism – one that touches almost every area of your business ­– into a powerful digital asset that gives you transparency into your business and helps you manage and improve it. Until today, you might never have focused on your physical mail. But now that we’ve measured the problem, you may realize that getting rid of legacy paper mail can help you cut costs and improve your business in a multitude of ways.

Also read our other post on tracking your mail.